Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French Fashion for the Well-Heeled

It has been a general assumption that Russians have little or absolutely no idea about fashion in the Western sense of the word. With that in mind, the Pullman Iris Hotel decided to stage a three-day fashion festival over the weekend, aiming to "introduce" French fashions to Moscow. The fashion show, held in the vast atrium of the hotel, which is soon to become the Sofitel, was also intended to attract a glamorous and well-heeled audience that probably already had a good idea of what French fashion was all about. They, it was assumed, would be interested in what the main sponsors -- Air France, Sofitel and the Hexel Group -- of the event had to offer, namely, vacations in practically any part of the world. Paying $150 dollars a ticket, the guests were not an average Moscow crowd. "The idea was to bring culture to Moscow -- but they seem to have enough of that," admitted Marc Marcinkiewicz, a Hexel employee and one of the main organizers for the show. "It was just a way of showing Russians the latest French fashions without them having to go to Paris," he said. Indeed, the audience did not seem to be in need of any fashion tips. Everyone, with the exception of a few sloppily dressed journalists, was dressed up to the nines -- women in lace stockings, miniature dresses and spike heels, and men in the required jackets and ties. The fashions, by comparison, seemed somewhat tame. Provided by Printemps, purported to be the "most Parisian department store" -- and possibly the most mainstream -- they consisted of the already belated 1994 Spring and Summer collections of Kenzo and Louis F?raud. Kenzo offered the familiar long (but not too long) look, as well as little pants and shorts outfits in conventional dark blues and white stripes. There were some slightly bolder pink and gold oriental ensembles thrown in, worn by French and Russian models. But racy it was not, by any standards. F?raud's collection was slightly more classical, perhaps too classical for this audience, but then again there were no significant representatives of Russia's more inventive fashion set. Suits and dresses were cut close to the body with conservative lines that verged on the matronly. The fabrics were perfect and the quality impeccable -- perhaps just what the Russian fashion industry needs. Shoes were shockingly low and surprisingly lacking the requisite platforms. "Obviously the fashions are very conventional and look very '80s because they're for the nouveau riche," said Masha, 30, an artist. "But on the other hand most of the things Russians are designing now are impossible to wear anyway." But if it was not the couture that showed off the best of France, it might have been the gastronomic offerings. Guests were plied with a fine glass of Brut Roederer and then presented with a full three-course meal. A platter of assorted smoked fish, beef Wellington, salmon Koulibiac, filet of beef with morels and truffles, and an exquisite blackcurrant mousse were all on the menu. A performance by one of Russia's own fashion plates, pop star Vladimir Presnyakov, finished off the evening and inspired the increasingly blas? audience to dance and continue drinking fine French wines. Laurence Daniels, managing director at Inelsa, was pleased with the turnout. "We know that Russians love to party," he said. "We really just want everybody to have a good time."